How to Decorate

How to Decorate Your Home: The Foolproof Plan in Just 3 Steps!

In this post: Feeling unsure of your decor choices? Don’t know how to create that cohesive flow in your decor? Here’s the 3-step foolproof plan for how to decorate your home!

You want your house to feel like home. To look stylish. Cohesive. Pulled together. Just like your favorite homes on HGTV. But you don’t know where to start. Or you’ve tried and you feel like you’ve wasted so much time and money. You’ve googled all the things and instead of helping, all those articles have just left you feeling more confused. You still don’t know how to decorate your home. 

How to Decorate Your Home: The Foolproof Plan

How everyone tries to decorate

By the time I talk to them, most people have tried to decorate just like this… 

They see a room they like on Pinterest and they think maybe that’s how they want their space to look. They pin the picture and keep scrolling. Then they see another room they like. And another and another. The problem is each space has different colors and styles. Now they’re confused.

So, they spend some time on google, searching for ‘how to decorate’ articles. Cause, you know, maybe those will have the answers. But the 195,000,000 results that come up are “11 Foolproof Decorating Tips”, or “52 Best Interior Decorating Secrets” type posts. They are filled with great ideas for various things, but none of them say where to start decorating and what steps come next. More frustration and confusion. 

So they try to make their home look like an Instagrammer’s house they like. They go out and buy paint, a new rug and some pillows. Maybe a new lamp or two for good measure. But when they get them home they just don’t look right. 

Or maybe they go out looking for pieces and become so overwhelmed with all the options they just can’t choose anything. So they come home with nothing. And they’re back to square one.

Or they want to use what they already have, but they just can’t quite pull it all together. No matter how they rearrange the furniture and accessories the room still looks off.

Now they’ve wasted time and money, and they’re no further ahead.

They’re left asking “Why can’t I just figure out this decorating thing already?

Does that sound familiar?

I wasn’t always good at decorating either

I wasn’t always a good decorator. I didn’t know how to decorate our house at all.

Wanna know why?

Because I was decorating without a plan.

I was doing it all willy-nilly, trying to follow tips and tricks in no particular order. Just like the person in the story above!

Don’t believe me? Look at this photo from our first house:

No balance, no texture. The colors are off. (You can see more of my previous decorating in this post.)

The problem was I was just reading random articles and buying this here, picking up that there, trying this paint color on that wall.

But there was no order, no organization, no step-by-step do this first, then this.

Even the ‘decorating for idiots’ books were hundreds upon hundreds of pages long. Which seems rather ridiculous in my opinion, because beginners shouldn’t have to sift through all that information, right?

Practice, Study, Practice

So I buckled down and learned all that I could. I studied photos of homes that I loved to find all the beautiful details. I visited model homes, scoured design and decorating magazines and poured over high-end catalogs. I even completed an in-depth program in interior design from a popular New York design school to fill in any gaps I may have missed on my own. (Which was, quite frankly, rather boring.) It took me years. 

But with all that practice and learning I finally – finally – figured out how to put everything together to make our entire home cozy and beautiful.

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How I decorated our first house, versus how I decorated our third house:

How to decorate your home: the foolproof plan!

After all that learning and practicing, I noticed there was a pattern to my process. So, I finessed it and sanded off the rough edges. Then I wrote it down as a foolproof plan for how to decorate, that I could share with you!

It’s the same 3 steps for every person and every home.

I’ve used it again and again. 

Wanna know what it is?

Here’s my simple 3-step process for how to create more cohesive style in your home, with less time and money wasted!

1. Discover your unique decorating style.

You need to know your style in order to decorate well. I wrote a whole post on the top 3 reasons you need to know your style.

To summarize, knowing your style is important because:

  • it gives you guidelines to follow for your home decor
  • it saves you time and money 
  • it gives you confidence in your decor decision making

Figuring out your style has to come first when decorating. Most of us like more than one style. So part of this step is deciding how to balance those styles into something that is beautiful and uniquely you. 

2. Put together a whole home decorating plan.

The second step is to look at how you want your entire home to look and function, so that you can get that cohesive flow everyone is always talking about

This whole home plan for your style and color is key to making your decor look beautiful and deliberate instead of random and chaotic. 

Which main color will you use? Which accent colors? And in which rooms? Plus how will your styles (and maybe the styles your spouse likes) work together to look good instead of like a crazy smorgasbord? 

Answering these questions and others is how your create a whole home decor plan. 

3. Decorate one room at a time in the right order.

After you’ve outlined your unique style and put a plan together for how it will work in your whole house, you can tackle one room at a time as your time and budget allow. 

By decorating with the big things (like furniture) first, then the smaller things (accessories) in each room, you can create the home you love, one space at a time.  

Now What?

If you need help really honing in on your unique decorating style, check out our Find Your Style Workbook

If you need more help choosing paint colors or how and where to use each of the colors in your home, check out our mini-course, Your Whole Home Color Formula. It’s a simple step-by-step online guide to choosing the perfect coordinating colors for your entire home. 

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Or if you want help with the whole decorating she-bang, including everything from defining your unique decorating style, choosing colors, planning furniture layouts, and decorating in the right order, check out our course, Decorating Uncomplicated


How to Decorate Your Home: The Foolproof Plan

Those are, of course, the basic steps. There are a few more so keep reading!

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I'd love to chat with you in the comments!


  1. From your course I would really like to learn my decor style and how to avoid trying to use too many styles in my home. My rooms don’t flow and don’t feel right to me.

  2. My new home has been a in state of “partially done” for 2 years. I would LOVE to have a resource that will help me finally have a more completed home. I am so excited to have a guide to help me bring my style into being and finally have a home I can be content to be in.

  3. I’m really looking forward to the entire PDF! If I had to pick an area, I’d say I’m hoping you can teach me cohesiveness. How to have a cohesive flow without my home being boiring. Can’t wait to see what you’ve got!

  4. What I most want to learn from the Cozy & Beautiful handbook is how to accessorize shelves, coffee/sofa tables, night stands, etc.

  5. Hi! I’m so excited about this new publication! What I would love to learn from Cozy and Beautiful is how to create a C&B space, with a minimalistic approach. I love to have beautiful things, but just the few practical items I love!

  6. I’m looking forward and hoping to get guidance on finally making a decision about painting our brick fireplace and deciding what kind of crown molding to use through out the house. I’m terrified of the word “commitment” because I don’t want to make a huge mistake and have a huge financial bill to undo it. I’ve been told once you paint brick there is no easy way to go back. On the other hand, not doing anything is making me anxious and stressed because I’m not “in love” with home yet.

  7. I really want to learn to mix paint colours well so it flows through my home. I’m struggling right now. I’d like to paint it all white but my husband is totally against it. ?

  8. We have a lot of pets….OK we have 6 cats and every room in my house has to be somewhat cat friendly so I am always struggling with what I can decorate with that my cats won’t destroy.

  9. Shannon, I just left you a message regarding the tan Moroccan Trellis rug matching my dark gray sectional on your small house tour post. And then I came across this other post where you are showing what I am guessing is the sectional you got to replace the two loveseats you had. My sectional is a tad darker than yours. I love how your living room looks. Thanks. Zaida.

  10. A plan is very important when you are doing any work. Without a plan may be you can completely the work but you cant make it perfect. And Yes, This is the wasting of money also. In home decoration if you are going to start doing anything then definitely a plan is very important. Thanks for sharing your useful tips and tricks to make a dedicated plan and to work according to that.